Category Archives: Blog News

MOP April 30: You, Too, Have the Power to Change Things

power

My Russian History class is two hours long.

I used to think it was absolutely cruel that church services lasted an entire hour…I mean, who could sit still for that long? Couldn’t the preacher condense his message to a well-organized fifteen minutes and still get his point across?

Yet here I am, willingly subjecting myself to sitting still for twice that length, without the luxury of padded orange benches straight from the ’70s.

The lectures are densely packed with information, and there’s no option of looking up the power-point slides later online. Our only hope of a good grade comes from taking detailed notes, and you better believe there is smoke coming out of our pencils as we balance our notebooks on the tiny desks and wish there was space to set a calming mug of tea to sip every now and again.

One day my teacher said, “Our topic of the day is Russian movies. We were going to watch The Storming of the Winter Palace, but we can’t after all, because my only copy is on VHS tape and they removed the VHS player from this room.”

The class heaved a collective sigh of disappointment. Wouldn’t it have been nice, we thought, to get a break from this relentless note-taking? To be able to sit back in our uncomfortable tiny desks and relax with a Russian film? But alas, it was not meant to be.

Monday, when I got to class, the teacher had written “319” on the board in large letters. “We’re meeting in room 319 on Wednesday,” he said. He didn’t say why at first, but it eventually came out that we were going to watch a different Russian film, Aelita: Queen of Mars. This movie was apparently also on VHS, and room 319 still had a VHS player.

When I got to room 319 on Wednesday I was amazed. “This is so nice!” I exclaimed. “Look at these giant wooden tables to spread all our stuff out on!”

“I know,” said the girl next to me. “I had to buy these small composition books so that they’d fit on those tiny desks in the other classroom.”

I happily spread my large binder on the table, and wished I’d stopped to get some tea, as there was now ample space for it. “And look at these chairs! They’re so big and soft!” I sank down into one. “This is such a nice classroom.”

The other students murmured their agreement.

There were still a few minutes before class started, so I continued on in the same vein. I felt very strongly about this. “Why can’t we be in this classroom all the time?” I asked. “If we have to sit for two hours, shouldn’t we get soft seats? If we have to take so many notes, shouldn’t we get a desk we can actually fit our notebooks onto?”

“I don’t make that decision,” said the teacher.

“Who does?” I asked, out of curiosity.

He gave me the name of some department. I dropped the issue then, and began…I don’t even remember what. Fiddling with my backpack, or talking to the girl next to me, or something. I didn’t even notice that the teacher had left for a bit until he came back in with a man I’d never seen before.

“These students have something to say to you,” my teacher told the man.

The man looked at us.

“Um,” I said, “are you the person in charge of deciding which classes happen in which rooms?”

“Actually, most of it is done with a computer program,” said the man.

“Is there any chance we could switch to this room?” I asked. “I mean, we have to sit for two hours, and these chairs are WAY more comfortable. And we have to take so many notes, but it’s hard to take notes on those tiny desks.”

“Hmm,” said the man. “That might work.”

“And,” I added, “this classroom is obviously open during this time slot, so…”

“I’m not sure if it’s always open during this time slot,” said the man, “but I’ll check and get back to you.” And he left.

We watched the movie. It was odd, but my hand got a much-needed rest from note-taking, and my hind end was blissfully comfortable in the plush chair. When it was over, and we all began to pack up our backpacks to leave, the instructor stopped us. “Let me quickly run over and see where we’ll be meeting for our next class,” he said.

We waited patiently.

He came back bearing good news. The wonderful classroom with the large desks and comfortable chairs was ours for the rest of the term.

I never dreamed that I had the power to change what classroom we were in.

I just complained about the situation because complaining is what people do when they can CLEARLY see a better alternative to the option offered. It didn’t cross my mind that those complaints would lead to actual change.

I thought I was powerless.

I think there’s a moral of sorts buried somewhere in this story. I don’t think people should start complaining about their classrooms and demanding a change of location. That could be pretty chaotic. I do think, though, that we (at least, I) tend to complain about things instead of actually trying to make change.

This is usually because we (I) feel powerless. But maybe we have more power than we realize.

A few additional unrelated notes:

1. As it is the last day of April, this is the last MOP post. You can catch up on all Mom’s contributions here, and Jenny’s here.

2. If you were closely tracking me you may have noticed that I was supposed to post yesterday, but didn’t. That’s because Jenny accidentally posted on the wrong day, and I thought, “whatever. I started MOP, I might as well end MOP too.” So here I am, on Jenny’s day, ending MOP.

3. Tomorrow and Saturday, May 1 and 2, Mom’s latest book Footprints on the Ceiling will be free on Amazon.

Hooray!

Download it here.

Tell all your friends.

Have fun!

Stay safe!

MOP April 27: Why I am the Girl in the Red Rubber Boots

This may be the only photo in existence of me actually wearing red rubber boots.

This may be the only photo in existence of me actually wearing red rubber boots.

It’s weird how, when you curate an online persona, you end up defining yourself by really random stuff you thought of years ago on the fly.

I have a number of readers whom I don’t know, and they all (probably) think of red boots when they think of my blog, so I should really have a REASON for that blog title, right?

I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember WHY I had chosen that name. I certainly didn’t own any red rubber boots at the time.

So I read back through my blog archives, and I think I’ve discovered why I chose to define myself by that particular piece of footwear.

Step 1: Thanksgiving 2010 I went to visit my Aunt Barb. Some of the kids that she lived with watched this one Phineas and Ferb episode on TV that was a spoof of The Wizard of Oz. Instead of ruby slippers, the Dorothy-equivalent had red rubber boots.

(I found a youtube clip of the Wicked-Witch-of-the-West-equivalent dancing in the boots, which I guess I found pretty inspirational at the time.)

Step 2: I searched for red rubber boots online. There was a pair of short Hunter boots that I thought were just lovely, but of course way too expensive.

Step 3: I got inspired to update my blog, so in December I made a new header. I basically used the same random objects that had been in my previous header, only I swapped out the red converse for red boots, because I thought converse were lame and I loved those unattainable Hunter boots.

Step 4: In January 2011, I updated still more, buying my own domain name and coming up with a new blog title. I still liked the idea of red rubber boots, and they were there in my header, so I just decided to be “The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots.”

Step 5: It was sort-of a self-fulfilling prophecy, because in 2013 I bought myself a pair of red rubber boots. Only not the Hunter ones, but cheaper Kamik boots. I did, however, buy them with the small amount of money I earned from ads on this blog, so that was cool.

At least I put more effort into the title than I did for my old xanga blog, now nonexistent, which was called “supergirlemzel” because I watched The Princess Diaries, and there was that song at the beginning, you know, “I’m supergirl, and I’m here to save the world…”

Or my twitter avatar, which is a cartoon of Lucy from Peanuts giving psychiatric help. I have no clue where that came from.Or my pinterest profile, which I guess was done in a weird fit of semi-sarcastic humor.
Or my facebook profile, which says I’m the person who screws the caps on the toothpaste bottle. Actually, I think Jenny hacked me and wrote that after I hacked her and changed her political beliefs to “Marxism.”

(And yes, I realize that it looks like I’m just tricking you into following me on pinterest and twitter or whatever. Which you can feel free to do, but it won’t benefit you much as I rarely use either.)

Now, I’m curious to know about you. when it came to choosing blog names, avatars, and blurbs about yourself for your online profiles, how did you choose? Was it a random arbitrary decision, or did you think it through?

Changes, I think

If you have a good memory you will remember that I want to become a REAL blogger.

Today I went all out.

1. Instead of emilysmucker.wordpress.com, I am now emilysmucker.com

2. Instead of Em’s Blog, I am now The Girl in the Red Rubber boots.

For the record, I do not own any red rubber boots but I am sort of obsessed with the concept of being the girl in the red rubber boots. Thus, I named my blog that.

3. I am trying to figure out how to put ads on my blog. It is very confusing. If you notice any ads please leave a comment so I know it’s working. But I don’t think it is.

The End. Have fun reading a REAL blog.

tee hee hee